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With a simple buttery shortbread cookie crust and an easy, creamy vanilla pastry cream custard filling, this strawberry custard tart is the perfect dessert for any occasion.
We just had our first warm day of the year here in Northern Virginia, which of course meant two things:
I have started planting our first garden, and Bear has started grilling and smoking for new recipes on his own blog!
Strawberries are plentiful at the farmers' market and I can't wait for my own to grow in the garden so...I may have went a little crazy buying up a bunch of them.
So y'all are gonna get this delicious strawberry custard tart!
This is the perfect dessert for the warmer months, and good news! It's really a straightforward 1-2-3 process. Make the shortbread tart shell, whip up the vanilla custard filling, and then top with delicious strawberries. It's easy, it's sweet, it's the perfect way to use up all those strawberries you just couldn't resist.
Origins of Tarts
Tarts have been around for centuries, it's believed that they were first created during the medieval times.
Tarts were originally made with a variety of different savory fillings, including meat, fish, and vegetables, considered a food only eaten by the bourgeoisie compared to the commoners' pies.
As time went on, sweet fruit and custard filled tarts became popular, especially strawberry custard tarts.
What's the difference between a tart and a pie?
The words 'pie' and 'tart' are often used interchangeably, but the main difference between them is that tarts are open-faced while pies are covered by something, usually pie crust or crumble or streusel mixtures.
Ingredients for the Best Strawberry Tart
- All Purpose Flour
- Unsalted Butter
- Granulated Sugar
- Vanilla Extract
- Kosher Salt
Vanilla Pastry Cream Filling
- Whole Milk.
- Egg Yolks.
- Granulated Sugar.
- Corn Starch.
- Vanilla Extract (or vanilla bean paste if you're fancy)
- Kosher Salt.
- Unsalted butter.
- Fresh Strawberries
- Strawberry jam, to make a lovely sheen
- Mint Leaves, for garnish
How to Make a Strawberry Custard Tart
Making the tart is much more simple than it sounds! You're essentially making a buttery shortbread cookie, also known as a sablé breton, smoothing the chilled custard on top of the crust, and then decorating. Super simple.
How to Make the Crust
In a stand mixer, mix all the crust ingredients. Yes, this baby is crumbly, it's looking like coarse crumbs and that's exactly what we want. Once it's all homogenous, press mixture into your prepared tart pan with slightly dampened hands and blind bake that baby under some parchment paper and pie weights or dried beans.
How to Make the Homemade Custard
Whisk all the ingredients except the vanilla and butter together in a saucepan over medium heat until it's bubbling and is a thick consistency. Take it off the heat and add the vanilla and butter to the hot milk and egg yolk mixture, place the custard cream into the cooled, baked shortbread crust, cover it with plastic wrap, and let cool in the fridge for a few hours.
When you're ready, loosen up some strawberry jam in a small pan with a little water over low heat. This will give your strawberry topping a really nice shine.
Lay the strawberries on top of the chilled custard and then brush the loosened strawberry jam over the berries. Decorate with a few leaves of fresh mint!
Told you it was easy, honey!
How to Make Ahead
The pastry cream custard and the shortbread crust tart base can be made the day before serving, just store them separately. The custard will need to be stirred before adding to the crust. Then top and decorate right before serving.
This is great for transporting the tart as well.
How to Store
Cover the tart with plastic wrap and keep it in the fridge for up to 3 days.
You can use any seasonal fruit you want! I especially love blackberries, raspberries, and fresh sliced peaches.
You can use the leftover egg whites to make a beautiful lemon meringue tart, whip up a delicious gin sour, or make southern banana pudding!
The crust does not defrost well, so I don't suggest freezing this tart.
You can absolutely use a store-bought, pre-baked pie or tart crust for this recipe!
More Spring and Summer Desserts
- Lemon Blueberry Sour Cream Pound Cake
- Classic Strawberry Shortcakes
- Southern Bourbon Peach Cobbler
- Easy Cherry Cheesecake Ice Cream
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Buttery Shortbread Cookie Crust
- 1 stick (112 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- ⅓ cup (65 g) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoon all purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
Vanilla Custard Filling
- 1 ½ cups whole milk
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ cup strawberry jam
- 3 tablespoon water
- 3 cups sliced strawberries
- Mint leaves, for garnish
Shortbread Cookie Crust
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Prepare your tart pan by lightly greasing it with magic cake release or baking spray.
- In the bowl or a stand mixer fit with a paddle attachment, or a large bowl with a hand mixer, mix together all of the ingredients at once. The mixture will be very crumbly.
- Using dampened hands, transfer the dough crumbs into the prepared dish and pat down evenly. Use a fork to dock the dough all over.
- Bake on the middle rack at 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) for 30-33 minutes until the crust is completely cooked and let cool completely.
Vanilla Custard Filling
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisk together egg yolks, granulated sugar, cornstarch and salt. Add in milk ½ cup at a time, whisking well after each addition until the mixture is completely combined.
- Continue to cook over medium heat, whisking constantly to make sure the bottom doesn't burn, until the custard gently bubbles and begins to thicken, about 12 minutes.
- Take the custard off the heat, and add in the pats of butter and vanilla extract. Whisk them in well.
- Pour the thickened custard cream into the cooled tart crust. Cover the custard tart with plastic wrap, placing it directly on the surface to prevent a skin. Refrigerate the tart for at least 4 hours up to overnight.
Serving Strawberry Custard Tart
- In a small saucepan over low heat, stir together the strawberry jam and water until the jam is loosened up.
- Just before serving, arrange sliced strawberries on top of custard filling and carefully remove the sides from the tart pan.
- Gently brush the strawberry jam over the strawberry slices, then garnish with mint if desired.
- Slice and serve.
Store leftover tart tightly covered with plastic wrap in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 204Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 124mgSodium: 230mgCarbohydrates: 32gFiber: 2gSugar: 23gProtein: 6g
All nutrition facts are estimations. Please see a physician for any health-related inquiries.
Eden Westbrook is the recipe developer, writer, and photographer behind Sweet Tea and Thyme. A classically trained chef, Eden has inspired home cooks into the kitchen with cultural comfort foods, easy family-friendly eats and sweets, and glorious spreads for date night and entertaining since 2015.